"I would love to see a club for this area," Ron dreams. "There's so
much camaraderie and just plain fun at the tournaments."
McCarty himself has been playing since 1970 and has participated
in clubs and tournaments since the early '90s.
"A club is just a place for people to gather who like the game,"
he said. "You play each other and learn new skills and improve your
game, and then you can choose if you want to play the tournaments.
You don't have to be a great player to join a club. But you'll meet
some great players."
For instance, Ron tells of a number of players from around the
state, and a few from out of state, who were at the Mount Pulaski
tournament this year and have worked hard at their game. Phyllis
Hughes, an 83-year-old from Champaign, has won a gold medal in the
Senior Olympics for her division. Ed Voice, 79, who won second place
in the Class B division this year, has competed in Vegas.
This year's tournament in Mount Pulaski featured winners from
Hillsboro, the Quad Cities, Indiana, Mattoon and Springfield.
"Our entry fee is low at $15, but we have sponsors, for which I'm
very grateful, so that we can keep the prizes high," McCarty said.
"I do want to thank Deron Powell at State Farm, Vonderlieth Living
Center, Downing, Przykopanski, Clements & May Insurance, Mount
Pulaski Pharmacy, Pizza Man and the Mount Pulaski Christian Church
for all they have done to make a great event for us."
He did get feedback from a few players that they would like to
see a few more specialized divisions next year.
"I hope to have a seniors' group and maybe a women's group, if we
have enough interest," he said.
"My goal with doing all this work for a tournament is to see a
club form. Any level of player could join, no age minimum or
maximum. Some clubs meet three times a week. I think you ought to go
with what the majority of the people want. Good players are
committed to improving their ability, and my experience is they want
to help others improve as well."
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Ron encourages folks to come watch at the tournaments.
"If you like being around people and having a good time, come
watch! Table tennis is the fifth-fastest growing sport in the world.
They are looking to find ways to make the sport easier to watch on
television, possibly by using a bigger ball. We use a yellow-orange
ball to help make the play more visible," he said.
The sport has come a long way from where it started in England,
using books and a golf ball on the table after dinner. What's behind
the increasing popularity?
"It just FUN," Ron grins.
2011 winners at Mount Pulaski:
Division A: 1. Mike Plunkett of Hillsboro, 2. Boomer Sekiguchi of
Division B: 1. Dan Taylor from the Quad Cities, 2. Ed Voice of
Division C: 1. Ed Rodrigues of Springfield, 2. Kevin Columbo of
Doubles: 1. Cari Bradley of Indiana and Tim Tonn of Mattoon, 2.
Rick Goertz and Stephen Paca, both of Springfield
[By JO HILLIARD]